I hate being late for things. I really do. For work, I’m usually half an hour early (or even more) before class starts. I can’t just rock up 2 minutes before class. I like to prepare… then I can relax.
Especially when you are flying or taking a train, you definitely need to be on time, they won’t wait for you!
So we had finished our time in Yangshuo and we had organised to take a bus back to Guilin city, where we had to take our train to Chengdu. It was to leave at 12:40pm and arrive in Chengdu at 2pm the next day, so it would take us 25 hours in total. Thankfully we had managed to book a soft sleeper; 4 bed compartment which we can lock just for the 4 of us.
We decided to get the bus at 9am, as it would take 1.5 hours to reach Guilin city. We wanted to make sure we had enough time to eat some breakfast and just to relax until boarding.
We booked through one of the many tourist offices in the area. We arrived and waited… no sign of any bus…. Then, the (grumpy) lady at the reception said in Chinese “The driver just rang me and said that he called your phone number and there was no answer. He is gone now but he will be back in 15 minutes.” My boyfriend looked at his phone and yes, there was a missed phone call. But why would he ring us??? They never do. Usually they just stop and wait for us.
We were all thinking maybe he actually never arrived and he just lied and said he was there waiting… we never saw one bus stop and wait. Not one, and we definitely were looking!
So then we had to wait another 15/20 minutes. At 9:30pm we saw a small van pull up and we hopped in. He then brought us to a big bus and in we went. It was full of Chinese people, whom I thought were all going to the train station like us. By this stage it was 9:40am, ok, so we might not have as much time to relax, but it’s grand.
Off we went. . . but not for long. The main road was in terrible condition! They were resurfacing it, so every 5 minutes we would have to change to the other lane, then again move back to the right lane. The traffic was really really bad, and I started to worry that we wouldn’t have time to eat breakfast.
I decided not to look at my watch. I definitely didn’t want to know the time. If I knew what time it was, that really would have stressed me out even more.
But I knew we were driving too slowly… far too slowly. We were always in traffic and then the bus was stopping for people to get on and off. I tried to concentrate on the silly Chinese film that the bus driver had put on, but it was no good. I was stressed.
After a few people got off, I hopped in beside my boyfriend and asked him “Are we ok?” He replied “We’ll be ok, but we won’t have time for breakfast, we have to go straight to the train station”… Ok, once he says we’ll be ok, I trust him.
But still, we were still travelling too slowly. All the tour operators said confidently that it would take 1.5 hours to reach the station. One even said 30 minutes!!! To me, being stuck in that bus felt like an eternity.
Soon, I could see my boyfriend getting a bit worried. He kept checking his map to see if we were close. I asked “Will we make it?” and he replied “I don’t know”…
Oh no… if he thinks we won’t make it then we might be stuck in Guilin! My mind was racing… how will we get back to Chengdu? We will have to either book another train and take a hard seater for the whole journey… and god knows when we would be able to get another 4 tickets. Or take a flight and have to fork out loads of money for it, plus lose the money that we already paid for for our train tickets.
We’ll be stuck in Guilin, and we don’t even like the city.
I still never checked the time. I really didn’t want to know if we were 40 minutes or 10 minutes away from the station.
I see then that we are coming into the city… Oh so we must be quite close. . . then I hear my boyfriends sister say “Are we nearly there? It’s getting late”. If she is asking, then we must be quite late.
The bus picked up speed then thankfully, and we got a bit closer to the station…..until we saw traffic up ahead.
At this stage I hear someone say it was 12:10pm…. we were all so worried! We might actually miss this train. And this traffic wasn’t moving either.
Slowly the bus was moving… but then we notice it goes a different direction… What!? Where is it going??? It wasn’t going the way to the station. My boyfriend thought maybe it was going to go in a loop, and then the train station would be it’s last stop… but we really didn’t have time for that.
12:15pm… I went to the lady who was in charge of taking money from the passengers and I told her we needed to get off now, we are late. Of course she said we couldn’t get off here, there was no bus stop.
All 4 of us were nervous as hell. We would be another 10/15 minutes away by walking to reach it.
As soon as the bus stopped, we all hopped out and started running like mad, the bus actually went behind the station and stopped further ahead, meaning we had to run back to it.
It was about 12:20pm or 12:25pm… and we were running like crazy. I then got a cramp in my calf so I had to try and walk as fast as a could, sweating like mad with the hot weather and my bag on my back.
We finally saw the train station up ahead, we might actually make it! We entered and quickly put our bags in to be checked by security. My boyfriend had a bag with crisps in it but one packet fell out of while going through security. He tried to get it but just had to leave it, he didn’t have time. Free bag of crisps for somebody!
We quickly searched our train number and hurried to find it. Thankfully it was really close. We just arrived when the we saw Chinese people heading through the gate.. WE MADE IT!!!
We didn’t get any breakfast, we certainly didn’t get to relax… but the most important thing was that we made it.
But imagine if we decided to leave it until 10am to get the bus…? What was annoying though was why all the tour operators told us it would only take 1.5 hours, when it took more than 2hours. Did they not know that there was roadworks going on????? Clearly they are giving wrong information to tourists.
So we got to our compartment sweaty, hungry… but very very happy that we made it.
I hope I NEVER EVER have to experience that again. And the thing was, it wasn’t even our fault that we were late! Fair enough if we were that lazy and we missed the bus, of course it’s our fault… but we were waiting for the bus at 8:50am… just to be extra early.
But anyway. We learned never to trust the tour operators in Yangshuo…. oh and that we were extremely lucky to catch our train!